cover image Lockstep


Karl Schroeder. Tor, $26.99 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-7653-3726-9

Seventeen-year-old Toby Wyatt McGonigal is lost in space for 14,000 years before his damaged ship makes it to a planet. He awakens from suspended animation to find himself the wealthy heir to the 70,000 planets of the lockstep, so named because the inhabitants adhere to a uniform pattern of hibernation: 30 years asleep, one month awake. When Toby overhears plans to turn him into a mindless puppet, he takes refuge with vagabonds who revile his family of interstellar tyrants. He’s torn between wanting to help young Corva Keishion free her brother from quarantine and wishing to reunite with his own siblings, even though they seek his death. Schroeder depicts the corrosive effects of power and fame on family and self, but larger themes falter in the face of obedient, incongruously adorable bots, cuddly intelligent pets, and the inevitable but flimsy romance between Toby and Corva. (Mar.)